We evaluated the impact of the 3-year Healthy Futures program on reducing sexual behaviors among middle school students.Methods
Fifteen public middle schools in Haverhill, Lowell, and Lynn, Massachusetts, participated in this longitudinal school-cluster randomized controlled trial (2011-2015), which included 1344 boys and girls. We collected student survey data at baseline, immediately after each Nu-CULTURE curriculum (classroom component of Healthy Futures) in the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, and at a 1-year follow-up in the ninth grade (cohort 1 students only).Results
Healthy Futures did not reduce the overall prevalence of eighth-grade students who reported ever having vaginal sex. In the eighth-grade follow-up, fewer girls in the treatment group than in the control group reported ever having vaginal sex (P = .04), and fewer Hispanic treatment students than Hispanic control students reported ever having vaginal sex (P = .002).Conclusions
There was some evidence of delaying sexual initiation by the end of Nu-CULTURE, for girls and Hispanics, but not for boys. Future research should focus on improving implementation of the supplemental components intended to foster interpersonal and environmental protective factors associated with sustained delays in sexual activity.